Colour, pattern, texture and shine give an outfit depth, making it look more interesting, eye-catching and attractive. If you think your outfit is missing something, troubleshoot by assessing whether it needs the addition of one or more of these elements. 

By mixing colour, pattern, texture and shine you can create all sorts of looks that keep your style fresh and rut-free. For a maximal and complex vibe, incorporate all four elements. If you’re a simple and minimal dresser, incorporate one or two at a time.


By colour I mean non-neutrals, so not black, shades of white and tan, dark blue, grey or dark brown. Sometimes olive is thought of as a neutral too. That said, non-neutrals needn’t be bright. They can be pastel, muddy, jewel-toned, mid-toned, and even very dark like a rich Bordeaux, eggplant or forest green.

You can wear neutral clothing and bring the colour through with footwear, accessories, eyewear, make-up and fingernail polish. When your eyes are a very bright blue or green, that also effectively adds colour to your look. Body ink and dying your hair a rainbow colour can also add colour to your style.


A pattern is a repeated decorative design. We tend to think of bold, bright patterns, but they can also be subtle. Patterns composed of low-contrast neutral colours and small motifs are the most subtle of all.

You can choose to go bold or subtle. You can also mix several patterns in one outfit. At the other extreme there are people who never wear patterns at all.


Texture is usually created through the surface interest of fabrics or from the embellishments on clothing, footwear and accessories. Texture creates tactile as well as visual interest, and is particularly popular with those who prefer to sport a neutral style.

Your hairstyle can add fab texture to your outfit. On the extreme side, long and wild curly hair that is left down and not tied back adds busloads of texture to an outfit. Long sleek and straight hair adds more subtle texture.


Shine is created by incorporating anything that shines in your outfit. You can wear shiny clothing, sport metallic footwear, belts or handbags, or pile on shiny jewellery. Adding shine to your lips is a more subtle approach. You can sport shiny nails, wear gold eyeliner, or simply dazzle people with your shiny smile.

I incorporate all four of these elements into my style, and often sport two, three or four of them in one outfit. I’m biggest on colour and shine because it positively effects my mood. I sport brights, pastels and earth tones regularly, and in all wardrobe items. I like blue mascara. I love to wear shiny lipstick, metallic anything, and bright white pearl jewellery. I adore classic patterns and pattern mixing, although most of my wardrobe is solid. I also enjoy incorporating texture like faux fur, pom-poms, suede, patent, velvet, embroidery and tassels.

The outfit below incorporates all four elements. Even if this look isn’t for you, it’s fun to admire from afar. How do you incorporate colour, pattern, texture and shine into your style?

Colour, Pattern, Texture and Shine